In Sketches: Myanmar’s Challenging Media Landscape

By The Irrawaddy 10 July 2017

Despite the abolishment of decades-long literary censorship in 2012, Myanmar has seen a reverse in the direction of media freedom, particularly since 2014. Here are a series of cartoons published by The Irrawaddy over the course of four years— from 2014 to 2017—reflecting the media milestones and hardships experienced in the country.  

Justice With Strings Attached

Kyaw Thu Yein, October 30, 2014

In October 2014, freelance reporter Aung Kyaw Naing, also known as Par Gyi, was killed while in military custody. The Myanmar Army said the journalist was shot dead when he attempted to seize a soldier’s gun and escape detention. Despite his wife’s attempt to file charges against the military for the death and alleged torture of her husband, the case was dropped by the police and courts.

Press Freedom in Burma

Shwe Lu, May 4, 2016

Myanmar ended literary censorship in 2012. Four years on, in 2016 press freedom in the country is depicted as still in its infancy.

Freedom on the Brink

Kyaw Thu Yein, Jan. 9, 2016

The Irrawaddy’s cartoonist responds to the terrorist attack on French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 that killed 17 people.

Enjoy Freedom of the Press

Kyaw Thu Yein, May 3, 2014

This 2014 cartoon demonstrates the control and lack of support for independent media in Myanmar.

No Freedom From 66(d)

Kyaw Thu Yein, May 19, 2017

There have nearly 70 cases filed under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law—which is used to prosecute “defamation” online—during the National League for Democracy’s government administration.

Press Freedom?

Harn Lay, May 2, 2014

The year 2014 saw some backslidings in press freedom in Myanmar with authorities placing restrictions on some publications on not to publish “inappropriate news about the government.” Others were threatened that they would be “held responsible for inciting social unrest” with their coverage of violence in Rakhine State. Four journalists and the CEO of Unity Weekly newspaper were detained by the police force’s Special Branch after the newspaper reported the existence of an alleged chemical weapons factory in Pauk, Magwe Division. All are facing prison terms of up to 14 years for “violating state secret laws.”

Ministry of Information Keeps the Media in its Tentacles

Zagalay, May 2, 2014

Despite the booming private media outlets in the country, Myanmar’s Ministry of Information takes a lion’s share of control of everything related to the media industry.

Burma’s Press Reforms at the Bursting Point

Kyaw Thu Yein, July 15, 2014

A 2014 cartoon demonstrates the precariousness of press freedom under the quasi-civilian government led by former President U Thein Sein.

Backs to the Crisis

Kyaw Thu Yein, July 1, 2017

Under Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, the Myanmar Army arrested three journalists, including one from The Irrawaddy, on June 26, accusing them of holding connections with an outlawed ethnic armed group. At the time of publication, they remain in prison.